Type of Alchemy

A free verse poem for Phil

BJ Dawson
2 min readMay 17


Photo by Monstera

You’re still there,

across space, time,
and childhoods long gone,

still humming with ragged,
stored energy,

still waiting somewhat-patiently
for your big bro to return
from big boy school,

still waiting on that moment
to collectively flip that switch
towards chaotic, kinetic fun

with the latest rap videos,
action figures, and

trucks that transformed into
metal ass-kicking,
morally-pontificating robots.

You loved me.

From the beginning, I knew it,
though I never knew why.

On sight, you shouted my name
like I was your personal rock star
or hero returned in triumph
home to his little brother,

even as I brought a dismissive scowl
and my own overcast weather patterns.

Perhaps it was a type of alchemy,
but you saw me at my lowest,
and never cared to allow for
my lingering there,

pushing past my bullshit,
grabbing my hand, and
demanding with a grin,
“Let’s go play!”

And just like that,
all the bullshit weighing me down
went weightless for a few hours.

I never understood why
or how you effortlessly
pulled me from the abyss of
my own mind’s design
day after day,

but I know that thanks to you,
and perhaps some wacky alchemy
everything was better.

Everything is better.
And yes, I am better.

©2023 Barry Dawson Jr. IV — All rights reserved

Yo Phil… I’ll never know why I was so lucky to become your older brother, but I hold this honor with pride. Happy Birthday, homie. Hope you’re being spoiled by your wifey and kids!

Me and Phil, circa 1983-ish? (Image by author)